Browns Stadium to host international soccer

By TOM WITHERS, AP Sports Writer
CLEVELAND (AP) - There will be more than pro football played at Cleveland Browns Stadium this summer.
For the first time since opening in 1999, the $290 million stadium will host a sporting event other than a Browns game when European soccer powers AC Milan and Glasgow Celtic play July 25.
It will be the first international soccer match held in Cleveland since 1994 when the U.S. national team tuned up for the World Cup with a game against Bayern Munich at Municipal Stadium.
Although the game is being promoted on various soccer Web sites, Browns officials declined to comment about the matchup Wednesday.
But they said they will announce details about the match later this week.
The matchup is part of a U.S. tour by international teams sponsored by New Jersey-based ChampionsWorld that will feature Manchester United, the world's most celebrated soccer team.
ChampionsWorld picked Cleveland because of the size of Browns Stadium and the city's central location. Organizers hope to lure soccer fans from Ohio -- Columbus is a hotbed because of its MLS team, the Crew -- and international soccer fans from Chicago, Toronto and Detroit.
Some civic leaders have criticized the Browns for not using the 73,000-seat facility, which was built with help from taxpayer's money, for more non-football events during the past four years.
The only other major non-NFL events at the lakefront stadium have been concerts by the Three Tenors, country music star George Strait and teen pop band, N'Sync.
In the past two years, the Browns have investigated the possibility of holding an early-season college football game and a doubleheader for top area high school teams.
AC Milan's roster includes Italian national team captain, Paolo Maldini, and Brazilian star, Rivaldo. AC Milan has won five European Cups.
Celtic is a two-time defending Scottish Premier League champion. The club has won 38 Scottish League championships in a storied history dating to 1888. Its roster includes seven players with World Cup experience.
Manchester United will open its four-game tour on July 22 in Seattle against Glasgow Celtic.
Manchester United play Club America, a Mexican team, on July 27 at the Los Angeles Coliseum.
On July 31, Manchester United will face defending Italian League champion Juventus of Turin at Giants Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J.
Manchester United will conclude its tour Aug. 3 against Barcelona in the opening game at Philadelphia's new Lincoln Financial Field, home of the Eagles in the NFL.
The games in Seattle and Philadelphia are sold out.
(Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)